Retreat. This is a word for my sister, someone far more mature in self compassion and peacemaking than me. This word became part of my story in the last 5 days. A retreat with strangers. And my 12 year old daughter.
Wellness. Work life integration. Culture. Words I have been trumpeting to my peers, to physicians and surgeons, especially women and moms. I have spent 5 days discovering all that I do not know about these words.
Letting go. Following, not leading. Not part of my vocabulary 5 days ago.
Dancing with the lights on during the day without alcohol. Never, before 5 days ago.
What is home and why did I come here, to Bozeman, Montana, to be amongst strangers to spin and practice yoga and hike in Yellowstone? Home is my family. But my family has not been getting my best self. Or even my medium self. They have been getting the leftovers. This is upside down and backwards. So I came here to reset myself, take a risk. And then the cherry on top happened. My 12 year old daughter, Lila, agreed to come with me.
We met, we practiced yoga, we did burpees, we did jumping jacks… then Nicole asked us to share what and where our home is,.. The strong woman to my right answered that her home is sweat. This is real for me, too. I am an anaerobic junkie. I don’t think I deserve to eat until I sweat. My temper is short until I sweat. I look different tin the mirror after I sweat. I am a better doctor after I sweat. I need to sweat to be a good mom, a nice wife, and kind to myself. So a retreat without sweat would be torture. A retreat ABOUT sweat… one word. YES.
I do things for myself. I take time for yoga 2 times per week. I work out every day. I get a manicure once in a while. I read fun books. I indulge in bad TV. But rarely do my kids get my best self, my relaxed self. Bringing Lila with me could have gone 2 ways.
- detraction from my self care, ruining the vibe for the other women, and a bored Lila. OR
- everything awesome for all of us.
We got, at least I think we got, #2 all around.
This kid is my heart and my light, the person who made me a mom the first time. She is smart and confident and gorgeous. She is a dancer. And she is warmth. I saw this experience through 2 lenses, alternating between my own eyes and hers. I watched her explore conversations with her new heroes and role models.
Nicole Meline. Never have I met someone who brings such absolute intelligence to fitness. Emotional intelligence. Creative intelligence. And just plain smarts. I sensed it when I took her classes when she was a Peloton instructor. I feared that meeting her in real life would expose that I had projected this onto her. But I DID NOT. She is the real deal. multidimensional. Perfect and imperfect. Strong and independent, so much so that she is ok to share humility and vulnerability and loss. Gorgeous inside and out is a cliche, but cliches exist for a reason. Nicole is a reason.
After a spin class that cannot be described by my amateur writing, with so much love for movement and work, sweat and joy, strength and rhythm and music, Lila asked to buy the t-shirt she had seen Nicole wear. She told me she would wear it to dance, so that she could remember to feel strong. I could have gone home right then and there. To see my daughter looking with starry eyes upon Nicole… at her strength and joy and beauty as a successful woman, single, resilient, bringing so much to the world with her own script, this was everything to me.
As if that were not enough, Lea Fulton graced us with her presence this week as well. Yogi, dancer, a spirit of support and giving. Lila watched Lea move her own moves. No choreography. And she absorbed it. As did I. I asked Lea to help me with a simple yoga pose, I told her I felt stuck and couldn’t get deep enough. Instead of adjusting me and pushing me, she just said, “that looks fine.” She took something I have struggled with for 10 years to improve and made it “fine.” This shifted me toward ease, not an easy feat.
The friendships… these are women who will stay with me. As a kid at summer camp I made friends in days that lasted a lifetime. But not as an adult. As a grownup friendships take years. Except in Bozeman. Here 5 days is enough.
So retreat has become a word for me too. I am full. I am easeful. And my daughter is here to get my best self today, and hopefully tomorrow. Until next time, nomads.